Charity’s fight against isolation boosted by £18,000 windfall

TRIP Deputy Manager Sharon Thorne and befriending coordinator Janine Stedman at Payhembury Village H

TRIP Deputy Manager Sharon Thorne and befriending coordinator Janine Stedman at Payhembury Village Hall. Picture: TRIP - Credit: Archant

A Honiton transport charity will be able to continue its work breaking down the cycle of loneliness and rural age-related isolation thanks to a £18,000 cash injection.

TRIP Befriending Coordinator Janine Stedman meets local Poet E.W. 'Peter' Peters at Feniton Social H

TRIP Befriending Coordinator Janine Stedman meets local Poet E.W. 'Peter' Peters at Feniton Social Hub. Picture: TRIP - Credit: Archant

TRIP Community Transport, in New Street, successfully pitched for the cash from the Postcode Community Trust, which will fund a befriending project branching out into smaller parishes in and around Honiton.

The scheme will see TRIP provide accessible transport to and from events in the area and take befrienders to rurally-isolated people who are seeking friendship. It will link up befriendees with community activities such as mum and toddler groups and memory cafés.

Janine Stedman, befriending coordinator for TRIP, said: "It can be such a lonely thing to walk into a crowded room on your own.

"This project will allow people to attend event with a buddy initially. Hopefully, these people start to make their own friends, and the befriender can help other people. We want to help break down social barriers facing our users. We know of people who have attended groups, not spoken to anyone and come away feeling lonelier, knowing people are there and they are unable to engage with them. The befrienders can change that."


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TRIP has a proactive army of 20 befrienders, and the charity is actively seeking more volunteers to support people.

Neil Hurlock, office manager of TRIP, said: "Befriending plays a vitally important role in helping isolated people become more active in the community.

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"That isolation is often hidden behind closed doors.

"People are increasingly stuck in their sitting rooms, either physically or socially.

"We will be starting to recruit, train, supervise and mentor both volunteer befrienders and drivers for this project."

Mrs Stedman added: "This project has been made possible by players of People's Postcode Lottery, with the funding being awarded through Postcode Community Trust, so our thanks must go to them.

"This is an inclusive, intergenerational and integrated project supporting people of all ages to interact and engage with each other for the benefit of the entire community."

Pilot project development work has already been carried out by TRIP in Feniton and Payhembury, with an official launch event planned at the New Street offices on September 19.

For more information about this project, email befriending@tripcta.org or call Mrs Stedman on 07841 525646.

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